At four twenty-nine, the carillonneur began playing in the abbey chapel. Outside, a strong wind bared down on the pines, and the set of bells banged in their tower, pealed across the fields, took wing over the stopped cars and train charging heedlessly through its crossing, and rolled through the October Glories up the hill, where a flock of murmuring starlings fanned out across the sky. There in my pew I sat, looking out the window imagining this, not sure if the cast bronze sounds in my head were echos or memories. It was four thirty.
The young monk sniffled. Frocks were adjusted. With finger licks and whispers, vespers pages swished, and hurried looks were snuck here and there. Our warmed wooden seats creaked and all stood. Postures were fixed and there was an expectation hanging in the air before the old monk chanted. I quietly read his line along with him. It would soon be four thirty-one.
I would have sung the chorus that followed if I didn’t feel the monk’s song, like a stone fruit charming my tongue before rolling slowly down my larynx, become lodged in my chest at that time. I don’t recall hearing anything at all. While a harmony of bells and colors blared where I sat before, I stood in unfiltered observance of things around me. I never thought about it like that — what he said. In that wide open cage of awareness his song revealed at four thirty-three, I noticed one of the pines across the chapel altar in the window opposite the one facing the bell-tower waiving to me in a wind that fooled me into thinking otherwise before.